Fall Malaise Sets in; Americans’ Risk of Depression Up 106% With Summer’s End

According to the Mental Health Index, cognitive function hi-jacked by increases in depression, stress, and anxiety

According to the Mental Health Index: U.S. Worker Edition, fall malaise is setting in. Americans’ risk of depression soared 106% in September when compared to the peak of the sunshine season. Further, data shows that a rise in depression coupled with a 40% increase in anxiety and 16% increase in stress since August is impacting U.S. workers’ ability to be decisive and meet complex business goals. In other words, employees’ all-important planning capacity dropped a consequential 16% – hi-jacked by the downward mental health spiral.

“Employers take note,” warned Matthew Mund, CEO, Total Brain. “Our data shows that a seasonal pattern of mental health improvement in summer months is consistently followed by emotional and cognitive decline during a season marked by the onset of shorter, darker days. Now is the time to increase communications about the availability of employee-sponsored mental health resources and tools and engage workers in robust discussions about emotional wellbeing.”

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The Mental Health Index: U.S. Worker Edition, powered by Total Brain, a mental health monitoring and support platform, is distributed in partnership with the National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions, One Mind at Work, and the HR Policy Association and its American Health Policy Institute.

“Mental health and stress are not just a product of the pandemic,” said Michael Thompson, National Alliance president and CEO. “Employers need to better understand and anticipate the diverse factors that impact the mental wellbeing of their workforce and then try to stay ahead of these trends in their organizational and program strategies.”

Margaret Faso, director, Health Care Research and Policy of HR Policy Association said, “Recognizing the seasonal pattern of mental health risk is one of the many ways Total Brain data is so helpful to employers. Planning for the ups and downs allows employers to be prepared with communication about the resources employees need knowing that programs need to be used to be effective.”

According to Katy Riddick, One Mind at Work, “We are seeing an important trend among leaders – looking beyond our current environment and the challenges it presents to mental health to a more intentional effort to foster belonging and a sense of purpose in workplaces. We know that this is the long-term strategy that builds more mentally healthy organizations.”

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Methodology: The Mental Health Index: U.S. Worker Edition contains data drawn from a weekly randomized sample of 500 working Americans taken from a larger universe of Total Brain users. The Index is NOT a survey or a poll. Data is culled from neuroscientific brain assessments using standardized digital tasks and questions from the Total Brain platform. Participants include workers from all walks of life and regions, job levels, occupations, industries, and types of organizations (public vs. private). The brain assessments used to compile the Mental Health Index were taken weekly from the first week of February 2020 until the week ending September 25, 2022, inclusive. The two weeks from June 13 to June 26 (inclusive) were compared to the last two weeks of September (from September 12 to 25, inclusive) to evaluate the changes that occurred in data trends in the last three months from June to September 2022.

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